Friday, September 7, 2012

'Three Coins in the Fountain' Open Thread


  1. Well, I watched this twice, because the first time, it failed to charm, but given James' enthusiasm, I chalked that up to not having felt 100%, so I watched it again, and, you know, it's kind of cute. It's not great in any department but the scenery -- I think the opening sequence with the various fountains may be the best part -- but they did manage to cram three romances into a feature length ad from the Italian Tourism Board, so that has to count for something. :)

    I must address the girls' scheming, of course, but Life is intruding, so I'll be back...

  2. So, we've got three romances, with three apparently unattainable objects of affection. Miss Frances has loved her reclusive, sardonic employer for fifteen years; if she ever schemed it was in the distant past, and she has been content with her situation, glad that she is no longer "vulnerable" like her young friends whose romances have gone awry.

    And I think we can acquit Anita of scheming. A romance with Georgio is so impossible she has spent the two years they've worked together denying her attraction to him. When they throw caution to the winds and indulge in a day celebrating with his family, they draw down the wrath of God, or at least The Boss. (I wonder how much a serious illustration of the damage gossip does was intended in the Burgoynes' speculation and leap-frogging conclusions -- Anita and Georgio going to this family's farm becomes Anita and Georgio spending the weekend in the country together, with Anita returning to the States because she is pregnant. Certainly more elaborately gutter-minded than was needed as a device to get one or both of them fired for breaking the no-dating rule.)

    But Maria and her romantic scheming! Prince Dino di Cessi is universally charming, but he's also completely invulnerable to the attractions of the young women whose reputations he casually sullies. Maria takes Frances' initial guidance about pretending to know a little about what the man she likes is interested in, and makes a science of it! It's hardly an original ploy, in Art or in Life, although I don't think that in reality it gets carried to the extent of creating an entirely false persona in hopes of snagging a good catch as often as it does in the movies. :)

    Really, the best scheming in the movie is Shadwell's visit to the disillusioned Prince Dino, with a bit of classic Movie Reverse Psychology to goad the younger man into acting before it's too late.

    In fact, the best lines in the movie are Shadwell's. I really enjoyed Clifton Webb's dry delivery of the few funny lines* in the show. I think the best scenes in general are the ones with Webb, including my favorites, with him and Dorothy McGuire and the whisky-drinking, and the funny and tender scenes that follow.

    * No -- I have to correct myself: the funniest lines in the show are between the bartender and the waiter in the whiskey-drinking scene with Shadwell and Frances.

    "But why six?"

    "I suspect a trick. The Americans have thought of a scheme to outwit us of our tips. I must figure this out. How can one save on six drinks?"

    The bartender shakes his head at the puzzle, and the waiter sighs, and shrugs, and turns away. Wonderful!

  3. Ahhh, there you are! So good to hear from our Cathy! Everyone has been missing you, and having good thoughts. You and April both.

    I'm glad you watched this fun show with us! Yes, Clifton Webb's Mr. Shadwell was good stuff. For such an acerbic man, he really was good hearted. His presence at the party was at least partly for the sake of Miss Frances, and for her he put up with the rather dull conversation of various admirers. I also loved the fact that he penetrated Maria's schemes with his friend Dino di Cossi and the role Miss Frances was playing in it, yet held himself back. At dinner following the opera it was great to watch him probe Maria, find her vague answers confirm his suspicions, and than just excuse himself and let it play out. Was this because of the role Miss Frances had played in encouraging it? I think so. And later, his attempt to detach Miss Frances from himself was again for her sake. It took some doing for him to realize that if he loved her, which he did, he had to allow her to love him, even through his illness. Yes, that was a nice story.

    But the show itself was incredibly beautiful! The opening scenes, before the credits, with the tour of Rome... gorgeous. And Frank Sinatra is a talent. His crafting of the song added another layer of beauty to the scenes we were treated with. But it did not stop there. The trip to Venice, Cath? The fly over, the gondola rides, even the setting for the lunch were all very lovely. Also the interiors, Mr. Burgoyne's office... the apartment the girls lived in... the palacia were Maria met with Dino's mother... they were all lovely. And the clothes! Those girls were dressed to the nines. Each of them in a different style, and each lovely in their own way. Just look at Maria in Mr. Burgoyne's office up there. Beautiful.

    I must say my favorite story of the film was Giorgio's reach out to Anita, and their trip to the country and his family's festival. The scene along the hillside was so lovely, and the music and friendliness of his family were delightful. His sister was a beauty, but those looks from his mother and father were great. She seemed so pleased to see her son there with Anita. And I couldn't make out much of the Italian, but I am confident that Giorgio did a fair amount of filtering in his explanations to Anita. It took me to the second viewing to realize that Anita returned his affections, though against her better judgement. She was a little like Joan Webster in "I Know Where I'm Going" in that regard. Yes that was good fun. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it much more the second time around! Thanks so much for going through it with me.